They deserved to take the spoils in the end, a reward for carrying the greater goal threat in the second half after the sides had gone in at level terms at the interval following an exchange of goals in the opening quarter. The outcome was a huge anti-climax for St Johnstone, who, marking their 600th game at McDiarmid Park, harboured hopes of moving to second in the table. These were two well-matched and well-drilled teams. Both played with an emphasis on tidy possession and smothering the midfield meaning that they each had to work patiently to try to carve themselves openings.
For all that, however, the visitors got their noses in front in a manner that must have infuriated Saints manager Tommy Wright because of its simplicity. Sean Welsh swung over a free kick to the far post which found Danny Devine and his header across the face of goal was turned in at close range by Kris Doolan.
It was the third consecutive goal St Johnstone had conceded from a set-piece but the advantage was cancelled out almost immediately as they pushed down field and David Wotherspoon set up Steven MacLean to slot in a composed equaliser.
After this little flurry the excitement dissipated and the game settled down into something more akin to a chess match with only sporadic goalmouth incidents to puncture the slow burning intrigue. Christie Elliott did however come close to restoring Thistle’s lead with a cross that took a wicked deflection off Brian Easton and nearly caught out Zander Clark.
Matters continued in a similar vein after the break, but Thistle had more energy about them and carried a greater menace with some pacey breaks. Clark did well to deal with decent efforts from Doolan and Ryan Edwards and it seemed destined to end in stalemate. The visitors just kept plugging away however and when Liam Craig misdirected a clearance it rolled straight to substitute David Amoo whose cutback was blasted home for a stunning winner by Osman.
“The celebrations were so emphatic because we’ve been on the receiving end of three late goals recently,” reflected Archibald. “It’s hard on the opposition but very pleasing for us. The substitutes did their job and we always carried a threat.”